Graduate Admission Process Enhanced
Submitted By: Kathleen Houlihan
February 15, 2010
Table of Contents
History of Graduate Admissions 3
Definition of Banner Terms-Coding 4
Admissions Process (current) 6
Recommendations for improvement 7
Required Decisions and Implementation 8
Future projects that need to be investigated 8
Appendix A-F 11
This paper is written to explain the admissions process as it currently exists at Wilkes University for graduate students and is an area of interest to the administration because of issues that were uncovered during the Middle States evaluation process. The graduate application process has evolved over time and at different points in the process there are successes and failures that should to be noted. The admission process for the most part has improved over the last three years, but as with every implementation process, solutions often lead to more questions. To make the case and discover the scope of the problem it is prudent to first explain the definition of terms and query fields used in the banner system for admissions processing. Next, the report will explain the human contribution to the project from the student services, graduate studies, the academic departments. Lastly, recommendations and an implementation plan will be laid out to enhance the current process which will include, data clean-up, and training to solidify the new coding policies and procedures once they are approved.
History of Graduate Admissions
The Graduate admission process was based historically on credit generation and back as far as three years ago clearly did not exist as an electronic process at Wilkes. The student application process was a manual process which included students sending in a paper application, transcripts and letters of recommendations and depending on the program other documentation if necessary.
At the time graduate applications received by mail were sent from the university mail room to the Max Roth Center. Processing included opening up mail, creating a folder for applicants that included the actual documents, which were placed in file cabinets housed on the third floor of the Max Roth center. This department operated with one full time staff person and all applications were manually entered by this individual into banner (SAAADMS, SPAIDEN, SAADCRV were updated). The checklist items were only tracked in the paper file system, the only way to see which items were received was to physically go to the file and review its contents.
In 2007, a checklist process was created to electronically track items that are needed to complete the admissions application-this checklist can be seen by the student. The students who apply online (98%) are now able to see a list of the admissions requirements and dates when their checklist items are received by the Student Services Center. The student application process is explained in Appendix C.
Graduate students have the capability to register for classes before they are accepted and for the betterment of the university bottom line the electronic admissions process has continued this culture. The online application process was created to allow students to complete the online application and go right to registration without regard for the other admissions requirements for the degree. Through these processes admissions is shut off in banner to accommodate registration. This online application/registration process has continued the issue of no tracking mechanism for graduate admissions, but it did not create the issue. The fact that students can complete a graduate degree without being formally admitted was an issue before the automated system and it continues to disrupt the process of file completion and admissions decision in a timely fashion.
Definition of Banner Terms-Coding
Prior to 2007
When the manual process was the only way to check an admissions checklist (i.e. going and looking at the student’s paper file), a GI-Graduate Incomplete code was placed in the Latest Decision code in banner on the SAAADMS. This GI-code gave the student what is considered a significant decision in banner. The definition of a significant decision is that it gives the student a SGASTDN record, which allows registration. These students would at times go through their entire program without being accepted. Letters were generated manually three times per year explaining what items were missing from the checklist and student then, just like now chose to ignore these notices, leading then and now to degree completion without completing the admissions process. It was however possible in Graduate Studies (now GPS) to see the file was incomplete by checking in banner, but no information was available about what was missing.
When a student was accepted by the department a GA code was used as the latest decision codes in banner when the student completed the admission process, meaning checklist items were received, file was sent to academic department and was returned to graduate studies with an admissions decision. GA-Graduate Accept is also a significant decision, allowing the development of a SGASTDN record in banner, however at this point the student already has a SGASTDN record from their former GI code allowing registration. The GI code is replaced with the GA code on SAADCRV.
These were the latest decision codes used in banner up until 2007, with the exception of a rare CN-Student Cancelled which would cancel the student application. There was not a business practice or policy for cancelling applications, it was mainly if a student called and requested to be cancelled.
Along with the latest decision code, it is important to review the Application Status code which also appears on the SAAADMS page. The prior 2007 process, used only D-Decision Made and I-Application Incomplete in this field. This field holds no significant decision or real value to the process at this time because all records are checked manually by hand. No exception reports were generated to verify this information.
2007-Current Coding definitions
The admission process still relies on the Latest Decision Code do determine actual admissions, but now there are four codes used and corresponding electronic admissions letters(communication plans)are built in banner to generate letters when the appropriate codes are used. These codes correspond with the decisions made by the department. There are letters build for new applicants who are international and domestic students that correspond to the Student Type –the only codes used on SAAADMS for graduate degree seeking students should be 3-First time Graduate and Residence I-International , R- PA resident and O-Out of state student. The admissions letters are the same for R and O candidates, but differ slightly for I-International Students. (The 0-Not disclosed and the N-Non-Resident Alien codes should not be used in the residence field for Graduate)
Current Latest Decision codes-
A-Accepted –full admission
CA-Conditional Accept- GPA is below 3.0-6 credits need to be successfully completed to change to A-(There is no current process to track this Latest decision update CA-A)
P-Provisional-Does not meet all admissions requirements-i.e. may be currently UG student and needs to be sent updated transcript upon graduation. -(There is no current process to track this Latest decision update P-A)
R-Reject-Student is not accepted to program of interest-Academic rejection
Other latest Decision codes (available in the data sample can be found Appendix F).—Data clean up project requirements include updates of above group along with 2nd group listed below (this group should always have Application Status- D-Decision Made or 0-Student Withdrawals Application on the record)
QA-Quick Admit used to get a manual application to a significant decision to allow registration-
Application Status-D-Decision Made
CN-Cancelled should be used only if the student cancels their application before being admitted
Application Status-0-Student Withdrawals Application
SR-Student Refused should be used only if the student cancels their application after being admitted
Application Status-0 Student Withdrawals Application
SA-Student Accept should be used only if program has a deposit for CW and for Professional Nursing. The SA code is used on the admissions side to designate deposit made. The Latest Decision Code should remain on SAADCRV only (P, CA, A). SA should be added in addition
Application Status-D Decision Made
The Application Status codes used in Graduate (updates occur on SAAADMS)
0-Student withdrawals application (only used when Latest Decision is CN or SR)
D- Decision Made Admissions process is complete (used on all NDS Program Code applications. Latest Decision code QA, A, CA, P, R, SA. & [all old Latest Decision Codes (GI, GA, GP)-data cleanup should eliminate these codes from future use]
I-Incomplete Computer Generated only used when file has checklist items that are incomplete (I should never be manually typed into banner as Latest Decision code-Checklist automation process will be disrupted).
C-Complete Computer Generated only used when file has checklist items are satisfied (C should never be manually typed into banner as Latest Decision code-Checklist automation process will be disrupted). A Cognos report is run on Friday with completes to have files pulled and copied for academic departments.
E-Evaluation Updated to this category only by student services used when file is sent to the academic department for an admissions decision (Checklist automation process is disrupted-field will no longer self populate). (File should remain in this state for only two weeks) process needs to be enacted to improve tracking at this status).
No other codes should be used for graduate in the Application Status field.
Once the file clean up is enacted to correct the current coding errors as explained Appendix F, this Application Status field will have a communication plan that indicates all students with an I in the Latest Decision will receive a letter indicating which checklist items are missing and that future credits may not count for their degree.
Admissions Process (current)
The admissions process in banner by definition exists only to track the checklist items, the rest of the process is inactivated as a result of instant registration. Registration is occurring as soon as the online application is complete.
A student applies using HYPERLINK “http://wilkes.edu/applyonline”http://wilkes.edu/applyonline. This application is received daily by the student services staff. The staff member changes the SAAADMS Program code NDS_GR to the NDS_Program of interest, from an exception report generated in Cognos. SPAIDEN is verified, SFAREGS, SGASTDN and SAAQUIK are checked and updated.
A WIN letter is generated by student services and mailed to all domestic addresses using a banner process (GLBLSEL, GRLETR) are used to process in Banner-Communication plan. Proof of letter generation on SUAMAIL.
Items on the checklist are received in Student Services and updated on the checklist
When all items are received banner automatically changes the Application Status I-Incomplete to C-complete. A Cognos report is run on Friday to pull and copy all C-Complete files for the academic decision maker.
Student Services changes all C-Complete- Application Status to E-Evaluation- Application Status file is in evaluation. Files should remain in this status for only two weeks, however there is currently no mechanism in place to ensure this task is completed on time.
Once the file is reviewed-a copy of the Status Cover sheet (paper that is placed on the top of the copied file that included the name of the program, academic decision, term, and signature-completed), it is returned to GPS where the Application Status is updated to a D. SAADCRV Latest Decision filed is updated to A, CA, P, R. SGAADVR is updated-this is where an advisor is assigned to the student. SFAREGS (if the student is registered) or SGASTDN (if the student is not registered) is updated with the MS_program of interest code.
A process is run on Friday in GPS to generate the letters that were input that week. Using GLBLSEL, GRLETR. A record of the letter generation appears on SUAMAIL.
Graduate Education ONLY returns entire copy of the application packet to GPS, once step 7 is completed in banner by GPS, the files are given back to School of Education. A cognos report is run in the School of Education that used to generate labels for the departmental copies of files (copied by Student Service) based on the Application Status updates completed that week. The non-education files are never returned to GPS-ONLY the status cover sheet is returned and step number 6-7 is completed.
Recommendations for improvement
The main reason this analysis was conducted was to stop students from going through their entire master’s program without being admitted. The solution that would be most effective would to be to halt registration for all students who try to register for their seven credits without being accepted into a degree program, but because Wilkes is based on revenue generation, it is imperative that registration stays active.
An alternate solution and the one being recommended is a communication plan that includes letter generation for students are I-incomplete beyond the six credit max. Once data cleanup is completed, the communication plan can be enacted. Part of the letter generation process is completed in banner, however completion of the project was tabled because of the banner 8 upgrade and no departmental designation pushing for the needed implementation. Furthermore this process will take human resources to implement.
Who will be assigned this task of running the reports and running the letter generation process? Because banner is term driven, each time the letters are run, all terms in the designated sample need to be run separately. This means just to get the checklist letters for the reports included in this sample will require ten banner processes to be enacted. Even with efficient processors, it takes fifteen minutes just to generate one banner process and word formatting exercise.
One other issue with implementation is there is no dedicated staff for follow up with prospective students in the School of Education, this is problematic. Typical admissions procedures would require the recruitment team to follow up with these students until the application is complete, but because it is not required to register, no resources were assigned to this area of follow up. A possible solution is to designate two individuals in the School of Education to increase the outreach to this group of students.
Non-Education majors have their application follow up process housed in GPS-no resources are necessary in this area. Creative Writing does complete admissions file follow up process in the department with the cooperation of GPS and Student Services.
Cognos report needs to be developed to check length of time record remains in Application Status E-Evaulation and verification process for Application status P-Provisional and CA-Conditional Admission students.
Required Decisions and Implementation
Data file cleanup has to be initiated as explained in Appendix F
Training of all Student Service, GPS and School of Education personnel on new coding recommendations in Appendix D.
Letter generation communication has to be created in banner and implemented to send checklist letters to the appropriate students. (Letter will include the statement-courses beyond ten credits may not count towards your degree unless checklist items are received). Communications will be sent using GLBLSEL, GRLETR monthly to students until Application Status is D. SUAMAIL will have a record of the number of letters sent
A Cognos report needs to be created to identify the population and a communication plan needs to be built to update the student when P-provisional and CA Conditional Accept files latest decision is turned to A-Accept.
Readmit process needs to be updated to include checklist letter when SAAQUIK 7-transiant student is updated on student type. Student type updated with 5-Re-admit needs no change in current process. (students who have not registered for two consecutive semesters (not counting summer) are inactivated in banner. A re-admit process is initiated by the student and updates to the student record occur in the School of Education, GPS and Student Services.
Future projects that need to be investigated
Performance Learning Systems, education partner- sends paper applications that need to be processed manually. Data entry for this group needs to be investigated and improved so that includes more than creation of a SAAQUIK, SPAIDEN and SFAREGS. After preliminary investigation the NDS form used with these partners may need to be updated, and it may be helpful to look for a possible online application/registration process for PLS courses. Issues include social security numbers needed for Act 48 are not entered affecting the output for record recording with the state, Masters applications are filed without being entered and students are listed at NDS students when they should be degree seeking. The implementation of an online process will help to alleviate data entry issues on the admission side and on the registration side all completed in Student services. Manual registration (in student services) is occurring for more 2,000 records in the summer and close to 1,000 in the fall and spring. Once this issue is corrected these students can be rolled into the parameters covered in this paper regarding checklist communications and therefore it may be prudent to include this issue the project for checklist and training outlined above.
Non-degree students may need checklists in the future at recommendation of the school of education. The reality is Wilkes does not currently stop master’s degree seeking candidates from taking classes with missing checklist items. For this reason it seems illogical to track checklist items for file completion on NDS students because Wilkes will clearly not stop the student from registering even as a degree seeking student. As an NDS student there is no recourse if the student does not do what is asked. Furthermore the application the student completes does ask them to verify they have a bachelor’s degree. It has not been a business practice or policy to complete this verification with follow-up documentation on NDS students. If it is required, the only solution is to develop a third application category for all programs that would include NDS- Actual. This would require another set of billing rules in some cases. The reasons for the new process should be considered before the plan is implemented.
Second degree students need a new Student Type code created to be easily identified all graduate students are entered in on SAAADMS at 3-First time graduate.
The university must consider the online application process from the student perspective. A necessary modification is to separate the online application into degree seeking, non-degree seeking based on levels and admissions process. This new method must be intuitive and effective in managing the application flow. For example, students who are enrolled in programs that require an admissions decision before they can register are still able to register for courses because the majors are all listed on the same. A process needs to be implemented in the very near future to prevent students from registering for programs they are not qualified to be attending.
On the academic side it is important to have the schools within the university find resources to update their graduate curriculum for each program in banner. The MBA program has started this process for the business courses and Education also is requesting these curriculum updates. Implementation of this plan will allow for automation for graduation audit and students will not be able to register for courses without the requisite requirements.
One possible solution is to employ graduate assistants for each department that can implement these updates and depending on the amount of work required within the department, it may take an entire year to create the curriculum. This banner update will help the student more effectively manage their degree requirements because out of this process, checklists can be created for the student pertaining to degree requirements and furthermore, students will be unable to register for the same class more than once which does happen from time to time.
Appendix A-Flow chart-1-Human Interaction (Student services, GPS, Academic department)
I. Student Services compiles student file with copy of admission documents.
A. GPS completes admission status cover sheet, places on application and delivers them to respective Program Coordinators.
1. Program Coordinator reviews file & Approves/Rejects (A,CA, P, R), completes entry term field
a. Academic Department keeps all copies of file and creates folder for accepted students.
(1) GPS prepares decision letter: sends to student & copy is placed in student folder at Student Services and departmental copy of decision letter is sent
Appendix B- Application Flow chart –Banner and workflow component
Student Services- SAAADMS is updated with E-Evaluation for all completes that show up on Friday cognos report as C-complete. Original application file is copied and sent to GPS. CW files are sent directly to the academic department.
GPS- (No updates in banner)- status cover sheet is created and files are distributed to decision makers
Department/ School (No updates in banner)-Advisor makes admissions decision signs and sends back status cover sheet to GPS- copies of the application file are left in the department for their records
GPS-SAAADMS, SAADCRV, AGAADVR, SFAREGS, SGASTDN are updated and communication plan is implemented in using GLBLSEL, GRLETR, to generate admissions letter in banner, copies of the letter are sent to the department and SS. The original letter is sent to the student (international original letters go to Global Diversity with copy of application and financials)
Student Services (No updates)-copy of decision letter and original signed status cover sheet are filed with original application.
Appendix C Flow chart –student process
Win number is generated Win number is not generated
Student may register through portal Student must wait until win letter is received by mail to register through portal
Student logs in wilkes.edu/applyonline using application username/password-Checklist items are available for electronic viewing
Appendix D-List of codes Graduate Admission process-Suggested updates
Latest Decision Application Status Program A-Accept D-Decision Made MS_program of Interest CA- Conditional Accept D-Decision Made MS_program of Interest P-Graduate provisional Accept D-Decision Made MS_program of Interest SA-Graduate Accept-Only use for Professional Nursing and CW programs when deposit is received all other Latest Decisions should remain on the record D-Decision Made MS_program of Interest QA-Quick Admit- manual process should only be used on SAAQUIK D-Decision Made NDS_program of Interest R-Reject D-Decision Made MS_program of Interest SR-Student Refused -Student who is accepted decided not to attend D-Decision Made MS_program of Interest/NDS_program of Interest CN-Cancelled Student who was not accepted decided not to attend D-Decision Made MS_program of Interest/NDS_program of Interest NC-No code in Banner I-Incomplete MS_program of Interest NC-No code in Banner C-Complete MS_program of Interest NC-No code in Banner E-Evauation MS_program of Interest
Appendix E-Applications received by program 2009
Graduate Programs Jan-Dec 2009 Applications Educational Dev. Strategies 653 Classroom Technology 338 21st Century Teaching 277 Discovery 236 Business Administration 186 Educational Leadership 149 Early Childhood Literacy 143 Instructional Technology 78 Creative Writing 78 Online Teaching 71 Prof.Nursing 48 SBL 44 ESL 43 Special Education 34 LOE 32 Doctoral Education 32 Electrical Engineering 30 Nursing 22 Art of Teaching 16 Autism 16 Engineering Operations and Strategies 15 Secondary Ed 10 Math 1 Total Applications Entered Jan-Dec 2009 2552 Total Applications Entered Jan-Dec 2008 2626
Appendix F-Data Sample Summary
200710-201010 Program/major field Description 8710 Applications requesting a degree program 16,145 Application in the Graduate sample(including NDS and Majors) 638 Applications that do not have an NDS or Major record Online applications have two applications- NSD and Major this number could include students who applied using a paper application, or came in through a partner channel of some sort. Number of apps Latest Decision Application Status 40 A-Accept D-(40listed as I human error all need to be corrected manually-to D) 5077 A-Accept D correct 68 CN-Cancelled D-needs to be updated to D -30 records need to be updated 255 CA- Conditional Accept D-(95% listed correctly) 4 CS-Create Student record listed as both D and I-this code is not used in banner-data entry error 5034 GA-Graduate Accept-Significant decision allows registration-goes on NDS records mainly I or D-Gives the student a SGASTDN record–IT process needs to be implemented- I code needs to be changed to a D (3561 need to be corrected manually) 276 GI-Graduate Incomplete no longer used I- these records will need to be checked manually by file review to check the status and updated with a new application to implement checklists 69 P-Graduate provisional Accept D (1 record needs to be corrected) 4 GP-Graduate Provisional Accept-new process uses P D all correct 2 GU-Graduate Update -not familiar with code?–should be corrected D 2807 NC-Field is blank I includes I, D, E in this field (2121 are listed as incomplete) 2104 QA D- 162 records listed as I–need to be corrected 112 R-Reject D-all correct 85 Student Refused W-Withdrawal- 85% listed as I 1 UI-Undergrad incomplete Needs to be corrected– 207 SA-student accept-used on the UG to show student deposit D-(50% still listed as I) Not part of current graduate process except for PLS NDS? Not sure why? 16,145 Number of Apps Application Status Comments 1 0-Student Withdrawals Application This should be used when cancelling application-rules need to be built 23 1-Incomplete Needs to be checked manually check list is shut off 321 4-Decision Made this is incorrect code should be listed as D 43 C-Complete These files will be pulled next Friday–bad coding should be checked 257 E- Evaluation These files are in transition-going to advisors and cover sheet should be returned within 1 week to GPS office 9262 D-Decision Made Admission process is complete 6238 I-Incomplete Once the above process is corrected this will be the group that needs the checklist letter mailed 16,145
I would like to thank Margaret Zellner, Renee Kotz and Betty Taylor for the time they spent helping to gather data for this report, without their efforts this report would not be possible. Other contributors who should be acknowledged are Debbie Dunn, Diane Demchak, Annemarie Smith, William Jones, Mary Byrne, Chris Stanley, Kathy Poplaski, Kathleen Makuch, and Patrick Hausammann.
GRADUATE ADMISSIONS PROCESS ENHANCED PAGE \* MERGEFORMAT 17
Italics-field name in banner
Shading- Code entered into field in Banner
Color-Screen Name in Banner